Does Your Thought Leadership Program Need a PR Campaign?

Lori Wizdo

B2B marketing leaders are striving to position their companies as “thought leaders.” And why not?  If you do not have a truly disruptive technology, product, service or idea (in which case you actually are a thought leader) being seen as a thought leader gives your company strategic differentiation. It helps you stand-out in the cacophony of messages that your customers must sift through to find you.  Given the complexities that B2B buyers face when making decisions for sophisticated solutions, your thought leadership might just be the most important part of your marketing program. It becomes part of your brand value. It converts you from a commodity supplier into a trusted advisor who can lead the customer to achievement of their vision.

But…..

Your thought leadership only matters if people read it, see it, or hear it.

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Trip Report from Cisco’s 8th Marketing Velocity Event

Peter O'Neill

Now here is some more “earned media” for Cisco. As usual, full disclosure rules require me (Peter O’Neill here) to note that Cisco invited me to its latest Partner Velocity conference in Cannes last week. As they told, the agenda was truly in my sweet zone of research: the challenges of B2B marketing including channel marketing. This annual worldwide conference was held in Las Vegas last year but the last one I had attended was the previous European event two years ago in Barcelona. As I wrote then, I continue to be truly excited by what I saw and heard at the event.

Cisco is the ONLY tech vendor that holds an event of this strength exclusively for marketers – the marketers who work for its business partners. I’ve been on vendor/partner marketing advisory councils but this one was a marketing training event and which IT vendor besides Cisco thinks it is good enough at its own marketing to be able to hold such an event for others?  I had some really great conversations with marketers across the globe – I collected business cards from South Africa, Nigeria, Dubai, Lithuania, plus across Europe and North America. It is interesting to hear that marketing has similar issues (getting enough executive support, proving its value, lack of resources) all over the world.

Two things I noted especially at this year’s event:

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Colt Revamps Its Channel Approach - Have They Missed A Trick?

Peter O'Neill

 

This week, Colt launched its Ceano cloud services for SMBs with a particular focus on the reseller channel that actually services these businesses. As this announcement combines the business strategy of a telco provider with an innovative channel strategy, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill have again combined (as in their previous blog on Cisco) to discuss their impressions:

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“Letter From Germany” — Lead Management Reaches Its First Summit

Peter O'Neill

Peter O’Neill here and welcome to another “Letter from Germany” post where I highlight something important for you about B2B marketing in Germany.  Last week I attended the first Lead Management Summit in Munich, an event organized by the business media publisher Vogel Business Media together with DemandGen AG, the European arm of that worldwide consulting group.  More than 150 attendees were treated to an agenda jam-packed full of user experience stories enriched by each speaker with their own set of useful anecdotes. Two highlights for me were:

Thomas Dueker, AEB GmbH (supply chain logistics software vendor). In discussing how he optimized their lead management process, Thomas also said he didn’t like to use the word “lead” too much. He remarked that he sees it as “too American, too much about selling, too quickly.” Remember my note in a previous blog about differing expectations in European marketers?  His system identifies “marketable and relevant contacts” and feeds them “quality content with minimum sales messaging.”

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Lead-To-Revenue Management Fosters Marketing/Sales Alignment

Lori Wizdo

I’ve been having a lot of conversations, recently, about sales and marketing alignment. (Well, honestly, who working in B2B marketing hasn’t?)  In Forrester’s most recent Marketing Organization and Investment Survey, we asked the respondents (522 B2B marketing execs from companies with more than 100 employees) about the quality of collaboration between sales and marketing.  Fifty-seven percent of marketing execs reported weak or mixed collaboration with sales when "defining lead qualification criteria" and "administering leads and lead pipelines." Those numbers underscore the much-storied rift between marketing and our colleagues in sales.

For a while I have been saying that a managed lead-to-revenue process will catalyze a new collaborative relationship between sales and marketing.  It makes sense to the point of being incandescently obvious; calibrating sales and marketing around a shared revenue goal is the basis for true alignment.   But, until there is proof, it’s a hypothesis.  And, now there’s proof.

In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution (a proxy for a more managed process) reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.

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Organizing For L2RM Success Is A Challenge If You Have Marketing Silos

Peter O'Neill

I (writes Peter O'Neill) have just published the Organization report for our lead-to-revenue playbook. My colleague Lori Wizdo is writing most of the 12 reports that form this Forrester playbook, but I get to write a few and we are both excited that Laura Ramos, now back at Forrester, will contribute the Business Case report.

In my report, “The Skills And Structures For L2R Success,” I have avoided suggesting a standard org chart for L2R process management because our client inquiries on this topic show that one size definitely does not fit all. Instead, I have focused on how to organize a team to design and manage a buyer-centric L2RM process. And I discuss the many new job titles, roles, and responsibilities that are now appearing in marketing organizations as more and more enterprises adopt an L2R strategy. I also consider the important interfaces to many other departments that are needed to ensure L2RM success.

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Handholds For B2B Marketers On The Slippery Slope To "Cost Center"

Lori Wizdo

I recently stumbled upon a very old quote from Peter Drucker, which completely nonplussed this lifetime marketer. Mr. Drucker observed (in his 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practice) that the fundamental purpose of a business enterprise is to create a customer. And because of that, he said, “The business enterprise has two - and only these two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

Today’s B2B marketing execs know that Drucker’s statement is a fragile hypothesis that gets tested at least every budget cycle and often every quarter. You know that if you are not able to quantify the business impact of the budget dollars spent on advertising, trade shows, and promotion, your CFO looks at marketing as a cost center: one of the first places to cut when the business indicators dip, and one of the last to be renewed when things turn around.

Revenue is the lingua franca of the modern enterprise

That’s why demonstrating the revenue return on marketing investment (ROMI) is the No. 1 issue for B2B marketing executives. In Forrester’s most recent B2B Marketing Organizations And Investments Survey, when we asked marketing execs to identify the most important metrics for their marketing organization, 56% identified a revenue-related metric — compared with 44% for customer satisfaction and 40% for brand awareness.

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CEO lens on the revenue performance problem – Psst…it’s about the system

Scott Santucci

 

Three years ago, we asked our CEO, George Colony, to interview other CEO’s about their opinions of their sales force.   One of those questions he asked was “are you satisfied that your sales force is getting your company to its strategic objectives?”

What do you think the answer was?

Out of 40 CEO’s he interviewed, 39 said “No.”

We spent a lot of time asking our clients – who are Sales and Marketing leaders – what they thought that meant, and the bulk of them believed it was about the sales force not delivering quarterly results. 

This highlighted a big gap in perspective. 

You see, in many ways what the CEO is selling is different than what the rest of the organization is – he’s selling the stock, which is a reflection of the future, whereas the rest of the organization is focused on selling the various products and services in the company’s portfolio with a quarterly event horizon.  Thus, if the people carrying out the strategy are more focused on the here and now and the CEO has a more forward lean in his head – you can see how this can create the recipe for major friction in the execution of the business strategy.

At the beginning 2011 we framed this problem like this:  The selling system is not adapting quickly enough to accommodate the changing business strategy.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, we spent a tremendous amount of time investigating what a “selling system” really means and the implications of the rate of adaptation.  Here are some highlights:

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Bending the Sales Productivity Curve in the Right Direction - Examples in our "cross selling" Track at our Forum (March 4-5)

Scott Santucci

 

During my keynote presentation, I will talk about new ways to bend the sales productivity curve and take a more strategic view of sales enablement – as always, the goal is to focus on bridging the gap between strategy and execution. 

 

One of those “new ways” involves thinking about “different patterns of perceived value” that your customers have about your organization and the role it plays in solving their problems.  Based on those patterns, you can create segments of “revenue streams.” 

Why break it down like that?  Well - not all of your clients want you to be their strategic partner – some even just want you to supply them with the same old products and services that you have been selling them for years.  You bend the productivity curve by matching the right sales model to these patterns of buyers and then optimizing the value chain behind sales to meet that value exchange requirement.  

Here’s what tends to happen – it’s one thing to realize this kind of segmenting is necessary, to move past the fantasy world that they are the strategic, trusted advisor for a majority of their customers, and realize they are stuck in different pockets (for example – in reality, they struggle to move outside of procurement, are stuck inside groups of IT buyers, or sales teams are told they don’t have permission to speak with executives).

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Getting Zen about Sales Enablement

Scott Santucci

 

When you put the word “sales” and “enablement” together – it sure can mean a lot of different things – to a lot of different people. 

As the Research Director on Forrester’s Sales Enablement team – it’s a problem I see every day. 

What’s entertaining about this (or aggravating, if you are a sales enablement professional inside a large company) is that not only do many people view those two combined words differently – many of those people are extremely confident their own perspective is the right one.  Given what we publish, the number of presentations we give, all of the cross-functional group settings we run into – you might imagine we’ve heard our fair share of strong opinions.

Here are a few highlights of my favorite “certainties:”

·         Sales enablement is just lipstick on a knowledge management pig.

·         Sales enablement is the new label for sales training.

·         Product marketers have been enabling sellers for years, what’s the big deal?

·         Sales people should be enabling themselves with all of the resources we provide them.

·         Marketing should own sales enablement, because it is clearly a content issue, and the sales force doesn’t have access to good content.

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